Depending on what is found locally, food for a journey can include:
• breadfruit, taro, and pandanus (cooked, dried, grated, and so on)
• ripe coconuts for eating and young green ones for drinking
• fish (cooked or dried)
• sugar cane
• nuts (husked and smoked, fresh with husk, smashed into paste)
• leaf packages that were baked in an earth oven - unopened they can last for days.
In the past, special foods were sometimes prepared as gifts for islands being visited – for example, coconut candy balls for the Yapese on the old sawei voyages (a traditional ceremonial voyage in Micronesia).

On Satawal, women keep the gardens and prepare all the food, not only for voyages but also other events, like canoe building and the pwo (initiation ceremony for navigators). They prepare taro year round. They cook in earth ovens or over open fires at home. They also prepare breadfruit when it’s in season. Teenage boys climb the breadfruit trees owned by their relatives and throw the big fruits down. The women may preserve the breadfruit in the ground for use on later voyages. They wrap the food in leaves to keep it dry and clean.

At sea, the crew also collect rainwater and catch birds and fish. They sometimes cook on fires of coconut husks GLOSSARY husks - outside layers inside wooden bowls lined with sand and small stones.

Preserving the breadfruit

Cook Islander Dorice Reid

“They learned how to preserve breadfruit – how to put it into the ground so it was like being refrigerated underground, that when they were ready to voyage, they could take it. It was called mahi in those days, and the breadfruit would also be preserved and last such a long time.”